YORK TWP. — Keystone’s once-in-a-lifetime first half was Buckeye’s once-in-a-lifetime nightmare.
Wildcats coach Scott Terry admitted he’s never seen it before on a varsity court. He may never see it again.
For an entire half, Buckeye did not make a field goal. The streak stretched 17:45, paving the way for a 55-20 Keystone victory in Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division action.
“Boy, I’d have to think,” Terry said. “I can’t remember (a half without a field goal).
“We play pretty stifling defense. The kids really enjoy playing that. When you watch them play, it shows.”
Making the feat doubly impressive, the Wildcats (9-1, 4-0) weren’t facing a bottom feeder. Buckeye entered the night 5-3 overall and 3-0 in the PAC, yet managed to miss its first 16 shots, go just 2-for-4 at the free throw line and commit 17 turnovers before power forward Marie Mesmer hit a step-up 15-footer with 6:15 remaining in the third quarter.
It cut Keystone’s lead to 31-4.
“Defense is really one of our strong points,” said Keystone point guard Alisha Silva, who finished with 16 points, four steals and four assists. “We just came out really aggressive and we had a goal to beat them by 25 (points) and we wanted to stick to that goal.”
After the first quarter, it appeared Keystone would be fortunate to escape with a 20-10 victory.
While the Wildcats’ matchup 2-3 zone was impenetrable — only one of Buckeye’s first 16 misses was a layup — they couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean, either, en route to a 2-for-17 start thanks to an equally strong Buckeye 2-3 defense.
No one wearing purple seemed to be discouraged, and Terry dialed up a full-court press that was paramount in Keystone’s 18-1 second-quarter advantage.
“When those bad shooting nights occur and you don’t have the offense clicking, the defense is always going to keep you in any basketball game no matter who you’re playing,” Terry said.
After the 2-for-17 start, Keystone fired at a .500 clip (21-for-42). Balance was again key as forward Kenzie Conrad had 10 points, five boards and three steals, center Danielle Wilmouth totaled eight points, five rebounds and four assists and Emily Nagy offset a 3-for-10 night with outstanding perimeter defense (four steals) and three assists.
The Wildcats finished the night with 17 assists on 23 field goals.
“I’m proud of the girls,” Terry said. “They hustled and created a lot of problems.”
The Bucks had more problems than Keystone’s defense. Leading scorer Trisha Widenmeyer finished with just five points on 1-for-8 shooting while trying to play through illness. Usual starting guard Sierra Heaton was also under the weather, and point guard Brianna Hritz struggled to handle the Wildcats’ pressure without Heaton and Widenmeyer at full strength.
Youngsters Hannah Hartley, Jordan Davis and Jessica Banas did play aggressive in the second half to at least get Buckeye to 20 points, but it was a very small consolation after a brutally sluggish first half.
“It was frustrating because we did play hard and didn’t quit,” coach Randy Haury said. “But we couldn’t handle pressure.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.